Heart Smart

Speaking to the bf last night (that`s best friend, not boyfriend. Duh!). We were sitting on my couch, talking about everything from apples to pears (or Johnny Depp to Object of Office Affection), sharing a bottle of Chianti and generally being Ms. Dennis and Ms. Smith. Which means that somehow, somewhere during the evening (towards the end of the bottle of afore-mentioned Italian nectar) we became philosophical and attempted to solve the world`s problems. Except, since Ms. Smith is engaged and we`re hastily drawing closer to the impending nuptials, the world generally refers to me. Somehow we got to talking about Monday`s post (That dirty M word) and the ensuing comments about what has become of dating in the year 2006.

We agreed that dating has become a convoluted exercise…rather than the gentle waltz of old (predictable, safe boy-meets-girl stuff), it`s something like a Rave (Jerky movements, knees and elbows knocking, getting into each other`s space, no eye contact and general mayhem.)

And it made us think…without an apparent presence of real chemistry:

Is the first date an indicator, a test, or just an inquiry? What should your typical reaction be at the end of such an evening? Do you climb inside a cab with a silly smile on your lips? Does something pull at you as you part? Do you feel nothing?

Are butterflies essential then? Provided you’ve met them a few times before? What if there are no butterflies? What if you’re relieved to climb into that cab? What if you feel nothing at all, not a single, solitary spark, not a momentary flutter of one lone butterfly inside? What if you would much rather go home and read or see your friends or take a nap?

Case in point: A few weeks ago…I`m in the ladies room of a trendy restaurant (Antique) in the ABSA Building, Cape Town. The restaurant itself is a perfect first-date venue. As if the gent in question has an inkling into my mind, he has picked well…sophisticated meal and wine menu, decadent baroque décor, discreet, non-intrusive waitrons and just this side of not too well-known so that it has not become pretentious yet (which becomes impossible once the shmodels and agents discover it. Life in Cape Town!). Unfortunately, half the women in the restaurant has managed to excuse themselves simultaneously and are now standing in line, waiting to use the facilities. I have excused myself from my date solely to catch my breath and freshen up. While waiting for a stall, women bond.

“Are you having a ladies night out with the girls? Would you like to come and join us?”
“No,” I say, “I’m on a date.”
“Ooooh a date! A first date?.”
“And will there be a second date?” the excitement in their voice is apparent.
“I don’t know. I mean, I have no idea what I’m supposed to be feeling at the moment.”


Then one woman jumps in, “The heart knows what it knows.”
The other women nod in agreement. “You know right away if the attraction is there, or if there’s a possibility for chemistry.”
“If you go home tonight and don’t care one way or the other if he calls you back, then that’s your answer.”
“Don’t just give it time and see what develops – if you feel blah about him right now, imagine what a month from now will feel.”
“You should at least feel something. Intrigue, maybe?”
“Girl, move on to the next prospect. Or go buy a pair of heels. Always helps me.”
“Yeah, I got this Nine West`s after a few bad first dates!”

And so it went, for 5 minutes while they waited for a stall, and I just listened.

“I think I’m going to hell,” I finally say, “there’s nothing wrong with him. He’s SO perfectly nice. He`s only been the perfect gentleman. He is smart and say nice things about me to me, but I’m just not into the date. Or him. I`m bored.”

“You’re not going to hell,” a blond (natural) offers her advice, “Being bored equals a lack of chemistry. And listen to that. You’re just searching, and be glad that you just won’t settle. So many of my girlfriends settle. And look at them now – getting divorces, cheating on their husbands, or just bored and miserable.”

“Never settle,” nods a redhead (not natural. But a good salon job I`m guessing), “there is someone out there, you just need to be patient and know what the heart wants. The heart knows what it knows ”

I went back to the table with the knowledge that my sisterhood (natural blondes, brunettes and bottle redhead`s alike) have just affirmed what every woman knows…

The heart wants what it wants. You just need to listen to it. And trust it. So, why is it that when we don`t feel chemistry straight away, we persist on trying. If you don`t feel that connection right away, what makes you think you`ll feel it later…because you`re just cheating yourself and the guy who is trying so valiantly to say and do the right things to impress you. There`s a phenomena amongst women of a certain age who is so exhausted with the idea of dating (and the drama of getting comfortable with a new person) that they would rather try to make it work with someone that they`re not entirely passionate about or compatible with…than just wait.

I told my date that as much as I like his company and think he`s really great, it`s just not going to work for me. He agreed with me that there was a lack of spark…and that he found me a bit too feisty (strong). But why don`t we have a second date and see what happens, he asked. I`d rather you find someone you think is amazing and have chemistry with; and take her out on an amazing first date.

And so it goes…This morning I was bantering with somebody about lacking the courage of his convictions. Well, I suppose the princess has to practice what she preaches. I need to have the courage of my convictions…

Until I find someone special enough to have that second date with.

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